Posted by Kendall Harmon

There was a miserable stint in the Army, mercifully shortened by a psychiatrist who thought I had no business being a soldier. There were a couple of romantic relationships with married women. Casting about for something to do, I eventually settled on studying journalism at San Francisco State University.

That’s where I found Islam. A friend introduced me to the Qur’an, and I was entranced by its words, which speak of a God who cares a great deal about the men and women he created. But it was also the people: the Palestinian and African American Muslims who first taught me what it meant to surrender. They welcomed me as no one else had before.

Some people look to faith for ideas of right and wrong, or some understanding of good and evil, or a set of principles with which to order the world. Not me. What I sought, what I ached for, was meaning and belonging. And Islam gave me both.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted August 21, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Burma is a deeply religious nation—predominantly Buddhist but with big religious and ethnic minorities.

Stephen Than, the Anglican Archbishop is from the minority Karen people. During his lifetime he has faced ethnic discrimination and a crisis of faith. Archbishop Than is the subject of a new biography, Dancing With Angels, by Melbourne Anglican priest Alan Nichols.

Listen to it all (just over 13 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMyanmar/Burma* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsBuddhism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With scant media attention, leading U.S. thinkers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon) and Evangelical Protestantism have been holding regular dialogue meetings the past 15 years. This is a good moment for religion writers to examine where things stand between these two dynamic faiths.

That’s because the talks are pausing temporarily as participants issue a new anthology: “Talking Doctrine: Mormons & Evangelicals in Conversation” (InterVarsity Press). The book’s editors, who’ve led the dialogue to date, are top sources for journalists: Robert Millet, former religious education dean at the LDS Brigham Young University, and Richard Mouw, retired president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

The two sides constitute the most unlikely dialogue partners imaginable, despite their concord on moral issues in the socio-political realm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsMormons

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sacks is reported to have shied away from media appearances for the past two years so as not to overshadow his successor as chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis. However, his head is firmly back above the parapet as he challenges many who say that religion is intrinsically a cause for violence. It is another challenge altogether from that of being the head of mainstream Orthodox Judaism — during which he became probably the best-known British chief rabbi in Anglo-Jewish history. An Archbishop of Canterbury during his period in office is the principal leader of the Church of England, even though the synod can resemble the House of Commons at prime minister’s questions. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster cannot argue with the Pope. A chief rabbi has to cope not only with the deviating views of other clerics but also with members of his flock who enjoy sniping from the wings.

The resulting magnum opus has been a labour of love. “I wrote with passion and it took 12 years,” he says, adding that he has a profound belief in detail: “You can’t do microsurgery with a pneumatic drill.” He has also rewritten the book four times.

Is it a book that could have been written while he was chief rabbi? After all, The Dignity of Difference, a previous book, was severely criticised by other rabbis because it appeared to give equality to other faiths. “The Dignity of Difference was a statement of global ethics. This is a statement of what I take to be the bedrock of Abrahamic monotheism,” says Sacks, adding that his latest book is more hard hitting. “I can probably speak more forcefully now than I could, because I am putting myself on the line, not the community on the line.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like 1.6 billion Muslims around the world fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, Jeff Cook has been rising before dawn each morning to have breakfast. He doesn’t eat again until breaking his fast with dinner.

But Mr. Cook isn’t Muslim, doesn’t have close Muslims friends, and has never been inside a mosque. The Christian pastor from Greeley, Colo., is fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan, which ends Friday, as part of a nascent effort among American Christians to better understand and support Muslims.

Mr. Cook posted a photo of himself on Twitter holding a sign that read: “I’m Jeff—A Christian in America. I’ll be fasting in solidarity #Christians4Ramadan.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

10 Comments
Posted July 17, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves



Lent & Beyond has compiled a comprehensive list of resources, links and Twitter feeds of interest during Ramadan 2015, which began today. Traditionally many Christians and Christian ministries use Ramadan as a time to pray for Muslims and encourage outreach to Muslim neighbors and colleagues.

Go check out all the links.. Ramadan prayer entries during the coming month will be posted using the Ramadan 2015 tag.

Also, you can follow Lent & Beyond on Twitter

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* Resources & Links

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Posted June 18, 2015 at 10:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.

“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their “responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: ‘to cultivate and care for’ the ‘garden’ in which he settled us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An internationally renowned atheist activist has relocated from India to the U.S. after receiving death threats from an extremist group that has claimed responsibility for at least one of three machete killings of South Asian atheists this year.

Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi gynecologist, novelist and poet, arrived in New York state last Wednesday (May 27). The move was orchestrated by the Center for Inquiry, an organization that promotes secularism and has been working with atheist activists in countries where atheism is unprotected by blasphemy laws.

“Extremist groups have been pretty public that they want Taslima killed,” said Michael de Dora, CFI’s director of public policy and president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. “In the last couple of weeks this has been ramping up and that’s why we were so concerned.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaBangladesh* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 3, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The five Coptic families that were last week forcefully evicted from their home village of Kafr Darwish in al-Fashn, Beni Sweif some 100km south of Cairo, are now back home and receiving warm ‘welcome home’ visits from their neighbours, Muslim and Copt. A general air of festivity and jubilation reigns as the family members settle home weeping with joy.

The five families form one extended family whose patriarch Youssef Tawfiq is 80 years old and matriarch is 75. The sons: Atef, Emad, Nour, and Ayman, are married and have their own families. They had been forced to leave the village on account of claims that Ayman Youssef Tawfiq, who currently works in Jordan while his wife and children remain in Kafr Darwish, posted cartoons offensive to the Prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page. The family says Ayman is illiterate and has no FB page; they claim he was framed and had lost his mobile phone a few days before the alleged FB posting having.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is religious persecution on a horrific scale, involving massacres, bombings, slavery, beheadings and mass rape.

So why don’t our churches protest against this slaughter of their own?

Yes, Christians are now the prime target of unbelievably barbaric attacks in the Middle East and Africa, yet Australia’s bishops, ministers, priests, church “social justice” units and Christian aid groups — usually so vocal — are now near mute.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAustralia / NZMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 20, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week marks one year since Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to 40 lashes for adultery, and death for apostasy. The campaign for her release was joined by thousands across the globe, including David Cameron, but although Ibrahim is now free, the situation for Sudan's religious minorities continues to worsen.

When the Court of Appeal declared Ibrahim innocent of all charges and released her from prison on 25 June 2014, there was cautious hope that the campaign would lead to wider respect for freedom of religion or belief in Sudan. But just five days after her acquittal, on 30 June, the Church of Christ in Thiba Al Hamyida, North Khartoum, was demolished after being given 24 hours' verbal notice.

As 2014 came to an end, religious minorities faced further restrictions. In particular, the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (SEPC) has been embroiled in a legal battle to maintain ownership of its properties, which began with a court order to seize parts of the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 17, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In India... [Tony Joseph] suggests, Christianity is doing far worse than in most parts of the world, while Hinduism is booming. Presently, he declares, around 78 percent of Indians are Hindus.

Well, yes and no. Nobody can claim that Christianity has claimed major shares of the Indian population, or that it is likely to do so in the near future. But some counter-arguments do need to be stressed, especially about the overall numbers. No sane person believes the religious content of the Indian national census, which is one of the world’s great works of creative fiction. At all levels, there is enormous pressure of all kinds – cultural, political and bureaucratic – to minimize the presence of all non-Hindu religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. That pressure becomes overwhelming when dealing with people of low and no caste, those who are most tempted to defect to one of the alternative faiths. Bureaucrats are especially hard to convince in matters of religious conversion from Hinduism.

That matters because such low or no caste people are so very numerous. India presently has over 200 million Dalits, the so-called untouchables. If the census is failing to pick up just a few percent of those groups who have converted to other faiths, that is potentially a huge number. In consequence, the estimate of India as 78 percent Hindu represents an extreme higher-end estimate, achieved only by making that the default stance adopted and enforced by census takers and bureaucrats. I would confidently expect future estimates of Christian numbers to decline still further as the government attitudes become chillier – which has nothing whatever to do with actual numbers on the ground.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduism* Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, has described the late chief Imam of the national mosque, Ustaz Musa Muhammad, as a pleasant and good natured cleric who lived a life of service to humanity and made an indelible impact on all who interacted with him.

The late Chief Imam, according to him, was a friendly person, bridge builder across religious barriers and a pleasant personality. He said the Chief Imam's death has further confirmed the transient nature of life.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted May 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I was very active in the progressive community in my law school, and most of my friends were politically active progressives,” he said. “But I was unprepared for their response when word started filtering out that I had enrolled in divinity school. Some of them literally disowned me; my own roommates moved out. Several folks literally stopped speaking to me and acted as if I had lost my mind.”

His own background was thrown in his face, with friends saying: “Chris, you’re a scientist, you’re a chemist, you trained as a chemist as an undergraduate, how could you possibly believe this insane stuff...?”

Coons’s message was deceptively simple: that we must find ways of “getting past some of our misunderstandings of each other.” The problem: Respecting each other on matters of faith and politics seems beyond our current capacities.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Small, winner of two national book awards for his recent novels, will discuss “East Meets West: What the Great World Religions Can Learn from Each Other.” He will attempt to weave the key themes of his suspense novels into a serious discussion of how interfaith dialogue can enlighten people’s lives.

In today’s world, Small explained, “when the headlines are too often about the animosity between the religions, I hope to help us build bridges across these conflicts.” He attempts to do this through talks, blog posts and his fiction writing, where he feels he can reach a different audience in a nonconventional way.

Specifically, the suspense/thriller author of “visionary fiction” will attempt to answer “Why do we have so many religions? What can we learn from this knowledge? Why do we need interfaith dialogue? What are the key teachings from Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* Theology

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Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So when Jesus says ‘No-one comes to the Father except through me’ he doesn’t mean ‘No-one can be saved except by being a card-carrying Christian’, but rather ‘No-one comes to God except by the Logos that is in them’ – that is, by following the reason and conscience that belong to everyone.

We should recognise that God can work through other faiths and philosophies too. St Paul recognised that we are all the children of God, ‘in whom we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17.28).

That is not to say that all religions are the same. The unique claim of Christianity is that in Jesus God was actually born and died as one of us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted April 17, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"It is impossible to go there, and to meet especially the children, without being determined that they must have a future," the Cardinal said.

But the task ahead is vast: regaining land from Islamic State, rebuilding ruined town and cities, establishing law and order and rebuilding society.

Nichols said that in the project to rebuild Iraq, "the presence of the Christian community is essential".

"I say that not out of a nostalgic sense that this is a Christian community that's 2,000 years old. This not a cultural, historical, or an archaeological issue. This is an issue of how do you build a stable, balanced society, in that region, and I think... the Christian presence is essential to that mosaic."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted April 15, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three decades ago, plainclothes Syrian agents went door to door in this border village seeking out young Christian men, who were abducted and killed in a notorious chapter of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.

The village’s nearly 2,000 Christians now find themselves siding with the same Syrian regime they blame for what many call the 1978 massacre.

That is because a few miles away, hundreds of Islamist extremists tied to al Qaeda and Islamic State stalk the porous border region separating Lebanon and Syria. Standing between the militants and the village are Lebanese troops aided by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, whose men are also fighting for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Yes, I prefer the Syrian regime over these terrorist groups,” a 45-year-old Al-Qaa resident said, but it is a choice “between the bitter and more bitter.”

Read it all from the WSJ.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamJudaism* Theology

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Posted April 15, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Trinitarian Theology of Religions Gerald R McDermott and Harold Netland OUP, pb...

Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims Gavin D’Costa OUP

Alan Race once suggested that Christian approaches to other religions fall into three categories that he labelled as pluralism, exclusivism and inclusivism. Race’s typology was widely adopted but has come under strain as theological debate has progressed. It is difficult to fit either of these books into Race’s categories. Both works, one evangelical, the other Roman Catholic, are conservative but while not inclusivist they cannot be labelled exclusivist in any straightforward way. McDermott and Netland advance what they term an ‘evangelical proposal’ but their informed and clearly argued book deserves to be read by a wide audience. One of their starting points is that evangelicals have neglected the doctrine of the Trinity but, following Veli-Matti Karkkainen (who together with Lamin Sanneh, Vinoth Ramachandra and Christine Shirrmacher comments on the book’s proposals), they are sceptical of those theologians who have attempted to isolate the work of the persons of the Trinity and see the Spirit active in other religions. “Other religions,” they write of the Trinity, “may have some connection with God but it is always with that tri-personal God and no other.” D’Costa is quoted arguing that the presence of the Spirit outside the church is always to be seen as Trinitarian and ecclesial, drawing people towards Christ and towards incorporation in his body, the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksGlobalizationMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For at least two or three generations of Americans, we have been taught in our government schools and through the institutions of influence in our society that all moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences where every moral value claim is simply one’s opinion, all of which are equal (well, except for Christian traditionalists). Further, as we see in Mr. Obama’s perception of the Christian faith, religion is no longer a proper basis for morality. As has been observed by many, the Holy Bible, even more than Enlightenment thinking, directed the values of the Founders and the views of generations of Americans. However, for the past several generations, Americans are taught to rely upon their “feelings” to determine how to behave. It is a truism that all of us have a theology; the only question is whether it’s true or false. Ultimately and fundamentally, if we get it wrong about the Lord Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else we get right. As Randy Alcorn once powerfully observed, “Americans embrace democratic ideals. This gives us the illusion that we should have a voice when it comes to truth. But the universe isn’t a democracy. Truth isn’t a ballot measure.” Yes, it would be quite arrogant if Christians were the ones who came up with the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ on one’s life. But we didn’t; we are simply repeating what the Lord Jesus said. If it were merely our thinking, wouldn’t we come up with something far more popular?

Read it all and the transcript of the full 2004 interview referenced is there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches* TheologyChristologyEschatology

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Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Easter, the holiest of holy days for Christians, a historic downtown Lutheran congregation will be worshiping not in a church but in a synagogue.

At 8 a.m. and again at 11 a.m., members of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church will gather in Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim’s historic synagogue during Passover to celebrate what Christians believe is the resurrection of the long-promised Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ.

It’s not the first time the members of KKBE have loaned their sanctuary at 90 Hasell St. to Christians. And it probably won’t be the last.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* South Carolina

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Posted April 5, 2015 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians—and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious practice can certainly be targeted as a pursuit of the hopeful, the faith-based and the uncertain. But they badly overreach when they attack the intellectual underpinnings of Judeo-Christianity, from the ancient Judaic scholars and the Apostles to Augustine to Aquinas to Newman; deny the existence of any spiritual phenomena at all; debunk the good works and cultural creativity and conservation of the major religion; and deny that the general religious message of trying conscientiously to distinguish right from wrong as a matter of duty and social desirability is the supreme criterion of civilization. The theists defend their basic position fairly easily and only get into heavy weather when they over-invest in the literal truth of all the scriptures — though the evidence for veracity of the New Testament is stronger than the skeptics admit, including of Christ’s citations of God himself: “And God said …”

It is in the nature of the world that we don’t know, but the decline of Christianity is much more of a delusion than God is and even more wishful, and the serious defenders of a divine intelligence such as the delightful John Lennox almost always win the argument, as he did with Dawkins and the rest. There is a long way between these two poles, and agnosticism is a much more rigorous position than the belligerence of the proselytizing atheists, but that is not a stance that stirs serious people to militancy. They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A priest in the diocese of Southwark who opened us his church for Muslim prayers has apologised after being told that this was not permitted within a consecrated building.

The Vicar of St John's, Waterloo, the Canon Giles Goddard, said on Tuesday that the event had caused "great consternation", and he apologised for "the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England's framework and guidelines".

The prayers were held on 6 March as part of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, in the run-up to International Women's Day. They were led by Dr Amina Wadud who campaigns for gender justice in Islam. Men and women sat alongside one another in the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Complaints about the service prompted a meeting on 10 March 2015 between Canon Goddard and the Bishop of Kingston-on-Thames, the Rt. Rev. Richard Cheetham -- who also services as Anglican president of the Christian Muslim Forum. After the meeting Canon Goddard gave an interview to Ruth Gledhill of Christian Today stating everything his church did was legal and within bishops' guidelines.

He added: ‘It is very much about St John’s being a place of welcome. We understand God as a generous God, a God who celebrates love and celebrates life.”

‘We try and make sure we live that out. In that sense we feel very properly Anglican.’

However, Dr. Gerald Bray, director of research at the Latimer Trust at Oak Hill Theological College in London questioned Canon Goddard’s views about Islam and Christianity. Writing on Facebook he said: “The simple truth is that Islam is the only major world religion that is explicitly anti-Christian. The Buddha, for example, could not have known anything about Jesus and did not develop his ideas in contrast to Christ. Muhammad, on the other hand, knew about Christians and Jews and could easily have become one or the other himself. Instead, he concocted his own religion based on elements of Judaism and Christianity and regarded it is the culmination (perfection) of both. You could say that Islam is related to Christianity in much the same way as Mormonism is, but this does not constitute 'a common tradition’.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury...[Tuesday] night hosted a reception for inter-religious and community leaders at Lambeth Palace.

Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.

The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forces from the group calling itself Islamic State launched a fresh offensive to overrun a string of Christian towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, setting off violent clashes with local fighters mobilized against the militants.

A mixture of Assyrian Christians and Kurds fought off the Islamic State assault, activist groups said, just a week after extremists took about 250 people in the area—many women, children and elderly men.

The contested towns are along the Khabur river in al-Hasaka province, a strategic gateway that would help Islamic State consolidate territory it holds in Iraq and Syria. The population of the area is predominately Christian, while the Kurds are a minority.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These are bad times for outspoken sceptics in countries where religion is brutally enforced, either by governments or fanatics with a self-appointed mission. Last week the atheist blogger Avijit Roy, who was of Bangladeshi origin but lived in the United States, was hacked to death at a book fair in Dhaka. It has been reported in Saudi Arabia that a young man in his twenties has been sentenced to death after he posted a video of himself ripping up a copy of the Koran.

In the far more comfortable environment of the United States, meanwhile, religious believers and sceptics denounce one another as though they were the greatest banes of one another’s lives. Atheists claim, perhaps correctly, that they face huge societal pressure not to declare their position, especially if they have any hopes of running for public office. Some religious believers say they face a liberal-humanist conspiracy to deny them the freedom to act out their beliefs, whether as employers, employees or in places of education.

But a physically courageous atheist from a Muslim-majority land says that a few months in America have reinforced his belief that believers and sceptics can and should deal courteously with one another and work together for freedom in places where it is dreadfully violated. Maikel Nabil Sanad, a young Egyptian blogger and protest leader, spent nearly a year in prison, enduring physical abuse and a hunger strike, before his release in January 2012.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism

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Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877/78-1960) wended his way into my doctoral research in 1999. Ian Markham commenced his study of Nursi in 2002. Of the relatively short list of English-language scholarly books about Nursi, several contain an essay by one or both of us. Markham, however, has gone steps farther than I. He included a chapter on Nursi in his Theology of Engagement (Blackwell, 2003); and significantly, of the English-language scholarly books on Nursi, Markham’s name is on the front cover of three, including the two texts under review here.

Who is Nursi? A Kurdish-Turkish scholar and spiritual leader, his public career overlapped two world wars, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and Turkey’s subsequent efforts to establish a different kind of government and national identity. His disciples — an extensive global community — see him as an Islamic restorationist, a God-sent reviver of the religion for the 20th century and beyond. Hence, they often refer to him by the honorific Bediuzzaman, that is, Wonder of the Age. His disciples are ardent students of his legacy, having produced more than 5,000 pages of thematically organized Qur’an commentary, practical spiritual guidance, and correspondence, most of which is published as the multi-volume Risale-i Nur (Epistles of Light). Nursi’s biography is compelling; but wading into his Risale can be daunting. He has his modern-day detractors, the government of Russia among them. Ian Markham’s Nursi projects offer guidance toward understanding and appreciation of Bediuzzaman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A vision to create "one of the most significant interfaith centres in the world" in the City of London was unveiled on Wednesday night at the launch of a £20-million fund-raising appeal.

The planned centre, Coexist House, is the idea of Dr David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and is supported by the Inner Temple, the Corporation of the City of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Coexist Foundation.

"Coexist House is designed as much for a secular audience as a religious audience and will not promote any one particular faith," the trustees say in a summary of their feasibility study. "It is a civic endeavour which would improve the way people understand religions and beliefs in all their variety. Nevertheless, it will offer a spiritual space, hospitable to all, in the heart of London."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted February 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Given that the connection of Islam to Muslim-majority cultures is particularly strong, does there not need to be, nevertheless, a proper distinction between religion and culture? Should not this be so, even if many cultural practices and values are derived from a particular religious tradition? The problem with identifying culture entirely with religion is that contextualization can begin to look very much like capitulation. The issue becomes sharply focused in the debate about “insiders,” or followers of Jesus within Muslim communities who maintain their Muslim identity. To what extent has there been conversion if people continue to participate in the salat (ritual prayer), make the shahada (the Muslim profession of faith), derive their knowledge of Jesus and devotion to him mainly from the Qur’an and the Hadith, and so on? Other questions concern the relation of communities of such followers (if they are in communities) to other local churches and the worldwide church. Also, how are persons and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel if the status quo ante is largely maintained? There remain serious questions about whether such communities or persons will be allowed to survive within the Dar al-Islam (House of Islam).

We must remember that evangelists and missionaries stand within the apostolic tradition and are not semidetached from it or outside it altogether. This means, for instance, not making up elements of contextualization but using the rich and varied sources of Christian tradition—for example, in patterns of worship, liturgy, the public reading of the Scriptures, and forms of private devotion. In Islamic contexts, we are particularly fortunate that so much has been taken from Eastern Christian traditions and can be reappropriated without violence to the integrity of the Gospel. The problem sometimes is that Western Christian missionaries, and even Westernized indigenous Christians, are unaware of this rich heritage waiting on their doorstep or are suspicious of it. In some places, Islam is an import into an existing Christian culture; elsewhere, both Christianity and Islam have come from outside. Whatever the case, rich resources for inculturation are available because of the historic interaction between Muslims and Christians. Let us use them!

The book represents a brave attempt at assessing the many opportunities and problems for Christian witness in Muslim contexts. I hope it is only the beginning and that some of the issues raised in this review essay will be tackled at the next conference and in any publications that result from it.

Read it all (requires free registration).

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Posted February 26, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said on Tuesday that his government would not “accept violence against any religion, on any pretext” and that it would take forceful steps to prevent and prosecute such crimes, in a speech widely interpreted as a response to a series of attacks on Roman Catholic churches in and around New Delhi.

“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the minority or the majority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly,” Mr. Modi said at a New Delhi ceremony to honor the recent canonization of two Indians by the Vatican. “I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.”

For weeks, church officials and rights campaigners have urged Mr. Modi to address a growing sense of insecurity among the country’s religious minorities, which include large populations of Muslims and Christians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 17, 2015 at 6:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an attempt to find a peaceful alternative for those in the Islamic world who advocate violence for political and religious goals, Christians in the West shouldn’t distort the history of Christianity, or stand idly by while others do so. Letting this version of events shape perceptions of Christian history invariably means a portrait of religion as a force of darkness, while science and technology will always be beacons of sanity and light.

The narrative portraying religious conviction as antithetical to reasoned comity among people and nations is easy enough to fall into. At the national prayer breakfast last week, for instance, President Obama compared the excesses of the Crusades and the Inquisition to the terrorism of today’s radical Islam. The president went on to condemn (rightly) those who advance their religious convictions with violence.

But what he and many others miss is the conviction that Western core values come from a faith in which God enters into human history precisely to save the world from the erring reason that fails, among other things, to recognize that terrorism is an affront to God and humanity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 13, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he was “often deeply embarrassed” by some failings of the Church of England in tackling anti-Semitism,

Justin Welby said people should be shocked by the rise in anti-Semitism and described it as “blasphemy”, as he hosted the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace.

The Archbishop said the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and the Paris terror attack on a Jewish supermarket had made the report more timely. “The need for increased police patrolling of Jewish neighbourhoods in response to security concerns was a “peculiar and remarkable obscenity when we are in the midst of commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz”, he said.
The problem of anti-Semitism was “deeply embedded in our history and the culture of Western Europe”, the Archbishop acknowledged as he praised the all-party group for highlighting “the stark reality of rising anti-Semitism in this country and the key responses necessary to counter it”.

Read it all.

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Posted February 11, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales has described the extent to which young people are becoming radicalised as "alarming" and one of the "greatest worries".

In an interview with Radio 2's The Sunday Hour, Prince Charles spoke of his hopes to "build bridges" between different faiths.

He also spoke of his "deep concern" for the suffering of Christian churches in the Middle East.

He is currently in Jordan on a six-day tour of the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 8, 2015 at 11:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The selflessness of four Army chaplains who saved others aboard a sinking ship during World War II continues to serve as an example to pursue "greater service," speakers said at a ceremony Sunday.

On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S. Army Transport ship Dorchester, bound for Greenland, began sinking after an attack from the German submarine U-223. Four Army chaplains helped usher passengers to safety and ultimately gave up their own life jackets - and lives - to save others. In all, 230 out of 904 people aboard the Dorchester survived.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 people honored the chaplains at the Peter Gallan American Legion Post 104. American Legion member Dennis A. Baptiste served as the master of ceremonies during the event that featured the parade of colors, the national anthem and speeches.

The event focused on the legacy of the four chaplains: Lt. George Fox, a Methodist minister; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, a rabbi; Lt. John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, a Dutch Reformed Church minister.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistReformedRoman CatholicOther FaithsJudaism* Theology

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Posted February 3, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, the dean of Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays, raised concerns about the use of the chapel for the Muslim call to prayer if it’s seen as a Christian church (given its history and iconography), rather than a neutral space on campus.

“There are serious questions...about the wisdom and propriety of allowing Duke chapel to be used for this purpose,” he said in a statement. “Despite some common beliefs and traditions, Christianity and Islam stand in significant theological tension with one another.”

Durham resident and author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove wrote that while he was “glad Duke Chapel hosts a vibrant Christian congregation,” he did not see the space as holy ground.

“The Dukes are buried in the crypt, not saints. Robert E. Lee's statue is in the entryway. Muslim prayers would not desecrate ground marked by the blood of Christian martyrs,” he wrote. “It would, instead, be an act of hospitality to hallow a messy place.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 21, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good morning. The British Museum opened its doors on this day in 1759, the first national public museum in the world. Sir Hans Sloane had gathered 71,000 artefacts from many parts of the world and these formed the core of the collection. 5,000 visitors a year to begin with has grown to six million annually now. As success stories go, the British Museum is hard to beat.

I must have been eleven when I first went there. I recall being surprised that not everything in the British Museum came from Britain. My juvenile and literal mind needed broadening. Fortunately my education provided windows onto different cultures and histories. At places like the British Museum many of us realise how much we have to learn from countries we’ve never visited, people we’ve never met and things which happened long before we were born.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 15, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For detailed information on the bill, you may go here)-KSH.

I shall not address the elements of the Bill in exhaustive detail. Others have far greater expertise in each of the areas concerned. However, I want to make some points about the Bill’s provisions in their own terms. As I do so, I believe that it is important to step back and see the proposed changes in the context of broader trends in how we live, govern ourselves and seek to ensure the security of our people.

I begin where local churches begin: trying, under God, to be agents of reconciliation; building communities marked by trust, mutual respect and care, and not by fear and suspicion. In many places, faith communities are coming together to build understanding and break down prejudice and stereotypes. Yesterday, in response to events in Paris, in my previous diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other communities enacted a day of fasting as a sign of mutual commitment and dependence on God in seeking peace for all. They stood in solidarity with one another. In my current diocese of Durham, where the numbers of adherents to faiths other than Christianity are relatively small, work is continually done by the faith communities in places such as Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Stockton and Darlington to build strong community relationships. The Near Neighbours programme nationally has had a significant impact on every place in which it is run.

This groundswell of community building is, and is seen by faith groups as, the most powerful force against radicalisation, especially among young people, on whom so much of the sense of risk tends to be focused. The Department for Communities and Local Government is doing some excellent work supporting local initiatives in this field. Groups with wider knowledge than local churches, such as the Quilliam Foundation, emphasise that this type of work in the community is vital to the Prevent Strategy.

Read it all (starts toward the end of column 673).

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Posted January 14, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Emblematic of this, in the Gospel infancy narratives, is King Herod. Feeling his authority threatened by the Child Jesus, he orders all the children of Bethlehem to be killed. We think immediately of Pakistan, where a month ago, more than a hundred children were slaughtered with unspeakable brutality. To their families I wish to renew my personal condolences and the assurance of my continued prayers for the many innocents who lost their lives.

The personal dimension of rejection is inevitably accompanied by a social dimension, a culture of rejection which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death. We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago. Other people “are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity, as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as objects” (Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace, 8 December 2014, 4). Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion. These are dangers which I pointed out in my recent Message for the World Day of Peace, which dealt with the issue of today’s multiple forms of enslavement. All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognizing and doing good, of pursuing peace.

It saddens us to see the tragic consequences of this mentality of rejection and this “culture of enslavement” (ibid., 2) in the never-ending spread of conflicts. Like a true world war fought piecemeal, they affect, albeit in different forms and degrees of intensity, a number of areas in our world, beginning with nearby Ukraine, which has become a dramatic theatre of combat. It is my hope that through dialogue the efforts presently being made to end the hostilities will be consolidated, and that the parties involved will embark as quickly as possible, in a renewed spirit of respect for international law, upon the path of mutual trust and fraternal reconciliation, with the aim of bringing an end to the present crisis.

Read it all from Vatican Radio.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We are in a situation that is a situation of war.” The words of Roger Cukierman, head of the main Jewish representative body in France, reverberated on Sunday at the end of a week that had seen a vulnerable community shattered by the deaths of several Jews in a series of terrorist incidents.

“Jews are very afraid,” says Emmanuelle, a young Jew, who like many did not want her last name used. “There is a real, justified paranoia.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaismSecularism* Theology

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Posted January 12, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is unbelievable that a modern democracy only managed to get round to disposing of these embarrassing laws so recently, but I find it even more shocking that a de facto blasphemy law is operating in Britain today.

The fact is that publishers and newspapers live in fear of criticising Islam. BBC guidelines, we have learnt recently, forbade the publication of images of the founder of Islam, even though this prohibition has not always been universal or absolute in Muslim history. Hastily revising its own guidelines, the BBC has now re-entered the 21st century, even picturing a Charlie Hebdo front cover on Newsnight featuring a cartoon of Muhammad.

Yet since 1988 and the hounding of Salman Rushdie and his publishers over The Satanic Verses, there has been a threat over free speech posed by radical and political Islam. I wish back then we had dealt with it. Every publisher and newspaper at the time throughout the world should have concertedly published extracts from The Satanic Verses to spread the risk and challenge extremist notions of blasphemy and apostasy, which surely apply only to consenting Islamic believers and not to ‘kaffirs’ and ‘heretics’?

Yet since 1988, the spectre of extremist censorship has reared its ugly head time and time again.

Read it all (requires subscription).


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Posted January 11, 2015 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The terrorist attack in France that targeted a satirical weekly, killing 12 people, has seen an outpouring of solidarity, both in France and around the world, in defense of shared values of free speech and tolerance.

But at the same time, the attack has given new fodder to Europe's burgeoning populist movements – in a way that could prevent mainstream leaders from easing the tensions in their countries magnified by the assault on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Rising resentments across Europe call for leaders to act inclusively against Islamophobia, experts say. But the Continent's populist swing, already eating away at support for mainstream parties, could extract a greater political cost than European leaders are willing to make.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On most afternoons, Mor Barsaumo, a honey-colored, fifth-century stone church nestled in a warren of slanted streets, draws a crowd. In the narrow courtyard, old men smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, while children kick a soccer ball across the stone floor. In a darkened classroom, empty except for a few desks, a teacher gives private lessons in Syriac, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ.

And now, the refugees also come.

Advised by relatives or other refugees, newcomers to Midyat often make the steps of the church their first stop. Midyat and its environs—known in Syriac as Tur Abdin, “mountain of the servants of God”—are the historical heartland of the Middle East's widely dispersed Syriac Orthodox Christian community. Now the region has become a haven as the fighting in Syria and Iraq has forced Christians to flee their homes.

“All Syriac Christians come here. Most of the aid is delivered from here,” says Ayhan Gürkan, a deacon at Mor Barsaumo and a member of the Tur Abdin Syriac Christians Committee, set up to look after Midyat’s Christian refugees.

Read it all.

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Posted January 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Yet, at this time of great peril, I deeply regret that the British Government seems to be stepping back, rather than stepping up,” writes Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander in The Sunday Telegraph, as he juxtaposed the “no room at the inn” of the Nativity with the horrors being meted out on Christians in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and Sudan. “Just like anti-Semitism or Islamaphobia, anti-Christian persecution must be named for the evil that it is, and challenged systematically by people of faith and of no faith,” he exhorted.

And he pledged that an incoming Labour government will establish a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom along with a multifaith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: “Supporting the newly appointed Global Envoy, this will help ensure a strong focus within the Foreign Office,” he assures. And he lauded Baroness Warsi for her commitment to faith and human rights and “the leadership she showed and the seriousness with which she took her responsibilities”, which was, he submits, “widely recognised...”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was so impressed with this homily that he dared to tweet it out to his 68.3k followers, which caused alarm and dismay to some condescending Tories, as though Justin Welby were being indelicately partisan and unacceptably inattentive to the constitutional constraints of his Office. He didn’t endorse any specific content: all he said was that it was “good debate”, yet this is inexplicably deemed to be “poor judgment by Lambeth Palace” (though the Palace didn’t tweet it: the Archbishop did).

We’ve been here before, of course. Last Christmas the tweeting was uncharitably critical of the Archbishop for not being “disciplined” in speaking about Jesus, which was laughably unjustifiable.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pakistan was still reeling Sunday from a devastating attack on a military-run school in Peshawar that left 132 children dead.

Shortly after the Dec. 16 attack Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani acknowledged responsibility for the attack, saying suicide bombers had carried out the attack as revenge for the killings of Taliban members by Pakistani authorities.

Just five days after the massacre, Pakistani Christians were not going to let the Taliban have the last word. Dressed in Santa Claus outfits and holding signs that read "United we stand in grief and sorrow," dozens gathered in Karachi, Pakistan to protest the attack.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Southeastern Turkey shares a 500-mile-long border with Syria. On this day, the view into Syria looks quiet, peaceful even. But just a few miles from here, Syrian government forces, rebel groups and ISIS are waging a brutal battle for control. So far, nearly 1.6 million Syrians have sought safety in Turkey, and more are coming every day.

SAVAS METIN, Kimse Yok Mu: They escaped from this conflict with their own clothes. They couldn’t bring any kind of stuff, their belongings, together with them. They just escaped. They left everything behind.

LAWTON: Since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in March 2011, nearly 11 million people have been forced to flee from their homes. Almost eight million are displaced inside Syria, while three and a quarter million have ended up in neighboring countries. Daryl Grisgraber focuses on the Middle East for the advocacy group Refugees International.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She took the call herself the night the Islamic State came into Mosul. ‘Convert or leave or you’ll be killed,’ she was told. The callers, identifying themselves as Isis members, knew the household was Christian because her husband worked as a priest in the city. They fled that night.

Like many of their Christian neighbours they sought refuge in the monastery of St Matthew. But Isis took that over, tore down the Cross, smashed all Cross-decorated windows, used it for their own prayers and flew their black flag on top of the church. Across what was Nineveh, Iraq’s Christians spent this year fleeing from village to village, hoping to find safety somewhere.

This woman’s husband and son continued their ministry among the scattered congregations of Iraq. But the wife, who took the call, is now in west London. We spoke there one Sunday morning earlier this year. To attend the morning service in a Syriac church and hear the Lord’s Prayer uttered in the original Aramaic in which Jesus taught it is profoundly moving at any time. But this year the prayers of this beleaguered congregation of Iraqi Christians in Acton have taken on a terrible, plaintive urgency.

Read it all.

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Posted December 17, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a thousand participants carried touches and banners through the Christmas-decorated streets of Vienna, with messages such as “Freedom of Religion is a Human Right”, “100 millions Christians suffer persecution”, “Stop the Genocide against Christians”, and not least the leading banner with the text “Murder — Rapes — Burning churches — Forced Islamization”, a clear protest against Islamist behaviour in many countries. The march was led by a priest holding a large crucifix, while Dr. Elmar Kuhn of CSI gave a speech while walking. The Maltese Church, which is located in the middle of the march, was rang its bells in support.

In addition to the usual flyers with information about the situation, the organizers also distributed buttons with the Arabic letter ‘N’. This is the sign that Islamic State and other Islamists paint on the walls of homes and other property belonging to Christians, marking them as targets of attacks, abductions, killing and destruction — a sign now used extensively in the formerly Christian country of Syria. This practice strongly resembles the methods used by German national socialists during the 1930’s to mark up Jewish property. This is a cause of reflection in times where Christians even in the West frequently need police protection due to their conversion from Islam, or due to being too clear and outspoken in their criticism of Islamic ideology.

Read it all.

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Posted December 12, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Welby says while the event in the Vatican was a unique event, bringing together so many different religious leaders, it's also crucial to build on that momentum with a programme of implemention and he says he believes the Global Freedom Network has the ability to do that.....

In the Church of England, he says, two dioceses are already very involved in teaching and training people in awareness of this issue to help people ask questions of how they invest, where they buy things from and where those goods might be made.....

In the modern slavery bill currently going through the British parliament, he notes, there are obligations on retailers to look at their supply chains....the Anglican leader also says he's been involved in running ethical funds and has seen first hand the impact that they can have on pressuring retailers to stop the use of slavery in the manufacturing supply chains....

Read it all and listen to the whole interview (just over 4 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMenPsychologyReligion & CultureSexualityViolenceWomen* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that the bowls of heaven, which are filled with the prayers of the saints (us!), are what God pours out in order to reach those of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” As we pray to extend His Kingdom, I imagine those bowls filling up. When they overflow, it is not hard to imagine the grace of the Kingdom pouring out of the bowls and into the dreams of those whose hearts are ripe. Of course we still do all we can to carry out mission, but in this season, more fruit with M**lims is coming from supernatural means.

Dumped fuel has a tremendous impact on the atmosphere. It is profound and negative. It should only be done when there is no other way to save lives. Joining in prayer for the extension of the Kingdom and the conversion of hearts and souls to Jesus Christ through all manner of means both natural and supernatural has a tremendous impact on the spiritual atmosphere. It is profound and life giving. It does not cost anything but time, and it pays tremendous dividends.

By the way…you might wonder why I chose to spell M**lim or Isl*m with “*” instead of just spelling it out. It’s because of search engines. Radical M**lims can Google for articles that mention both Christ and Isl*m looking for ways to identify those whom they view are committing apostasy. A simple thing like an * in the spelling is just a safety net for our brothers and sisters in Christ who came from a M**lim background.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationPsychologyScience & TechnologyViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined Pope Francis and other world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.

The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network – which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] – brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2014 at 7:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Let my people go." Pope Francis could not have been clearer in his message to Isil: the group’s persecution of Christians in the Middle East has claimed thousands of lives and turned the region into a no-go area for a faith rooted in that soil. Martyrdom has become routine in Christ’s birth place.

In echoing Moses’s plea to the Pharaoh, Francis acknowledged that this kind of dark sectarianism has been part of our history for millennia. Trust an MP to use this tragic history to score a political point. Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West and minister for international development, has come out with the crass claim that Isil is acting no worse than Christians have done through the ages.

Swayne’s statement is deeply offensive and morally wrong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of Islam’s most senior clerics is due to travel to Britain this week to take part in a debate organised by Ukip on religious extremism.

The Grand Mufti of Egypt is expected to meet Nigel Farage and will join a panel discussion on youth radicalisation, according to the party’s communities spokesman, Amjad Bashir.

Mr Bashir, an MEP and one of the party’s most prominent Muslims, has billed the event as an opportunity to remind young people of “the teachings of their religion and developing strategies for combating religious intolerance”.

Shawqi Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam is Egypt’s leading religious authority. He has become one of the most prominent Muslim critics of Islamic State, denouncing it as “an extremist and bloody group that poses a danger to Islam and Muslims”.

Read it all (requires subscription)



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The debate about the monarchy will spring back to life when Her Majesty the Queen dies, as sadly we all must, but the next coronation will still be a huge state occasion, a moment that redefines the nation. That is why, for the first time, people of other faiths will be invited to take part.

That's a fact, in my understanding, although the Church of England will not yet admit it. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders who will devise and put on the service refuse to talk about a future coronation publicly, saying that to do so while the Queen is still alive would be "very improper". But privately, in conversations over the past 18 months, they have told me they accept the need to be "hospitable" to other faiths.

So Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others can expect an invitation to play some part in this grand occasion, which has been explicitly and exclusively Christian for a thousand years.

This dramatic shift will dismay traditionalists, as did Lord Harries on Friday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches

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Posted December 1, 2014 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On 2 December 2014 the Global Freedom Network (GFN) will bring together faith leaders forming a historic initiative to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

They will sign the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery to underline that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity, and must be recognised as such by everyone and by all nations. They affirm their common commitment to inspiring spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere to eradicate modern slavery. The signatories will be...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesSexualityTeens / YouthViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 1, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, has said readings from the Koran should feature in the next Coronation, when Prince Charles succeeds to the Throne.

In a debate on the role of religion in British public life, Lord Harries, now an independent peer, praised what he called "the hospitality" shown in a service last year at Bristol Cathedral.

However, Douglas Murray, author and associate editor of The Spectator, disagreed saying: "A lot of people will think this is an example of Anglican leaders not having faith in their own faith."

Listen to it all (6 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take the time to watch it all (about 16-19 minutes).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted November 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian and Muslim leaders fear more violence in the coastal city of Mombasa after the government indefinitely closed four mosques over suspected terror activities.

On Friday (Nov. 21), religious and political leaders united to urge the government to reopen the mosques. Muslim leaders accused the government of insensitivity, while Christian leaders feared being targeted in revenge attacks.

“We have always advised the government against adopting these counterproductive and draconian measures. It is unfortunate they ignored the Muslim leaders,” said Sheikh Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 22, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I’m Nur. I’m 19. I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim,” says a young man in a hoodie and grey sweats. “I’m a good person living in a bad area,” he pauses and looks up from his script. “Can someone listen while I speak?” Nur asks.

This is a rehearsal for Conflict of Silence, a radio play to be performed — and recorded — in Birmingham on November 17. The three stars, all unemployed, are different ages and of different ethnic backgrounds. What they share is religious faith: Derek, who reads his script straight, then in West Indian patois, is Christian. Nur and Hanna, a tall, leggy girl in a magenta hijab, are Muslim. And they could not be more different. “What I’ve learnt is the strong effect that different cultures have on Islam,” says Derek. Hanna is of Somali origin, Nur’s family are from Yemen. “We had a bit of a disagreement about women staying at home,” says Hanna lightly.

And that is the point. This is a project for InterFaith Week (which runs from tomorrow until next Satuday), and the aim is to air differences and have open debate. The audience will be invited to respond afterwards, ask questions, share thoughts. “The play is a question mark rather than a full stop,” says Steve, the Christian co-ordinating the play for Soul City Arts. The hope is to spark dialogue between polarised faith communities. He explains: “Our [faith] communities aren’t talking because we are afraid to challenge each other.” People remain polite, he adds, but, often in Muslim majority areas, community relations are perceived “as a question of them and us”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted November 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out and note the speakers included--Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsJudaism

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Posted November 18, 2014 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslim leaders have a duty to warn their own followers about the “indescribable tragedy” of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and around the world, the Prince of Wales has insisted.

He said that faith leaders must ensure their followers respect believers in other faiths “rather than remaining silent”.

His comments came in a special message recorded for the publication of a new report which concludes that Christians are the “most persecuted religious minority” in the world and that Muslim countries dominate the list of places where religious freedom is most under threat.

While emphasising the importance of his own personal Christian faith, he also signalled that he saw his role as to “defend” followers of other faiths including Islam.

Read it all.

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Posted November 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coastal city of Wenzhou is sometimes called China’s Jerusalem. Ringed by mountains and far from the capital, Beijing, it has long been a haven for a religion that China’s Communist leaders view with deep unease: Christianity. Most cities of its size, with about 9m people, have no more than a dozen or so visibly Christian buildings. Until recently, in Wenzhou, hundreds of crosses decorated church roofs.

This year, however, more than 230 have been classed as “illegal structures” and removed. Videos posted on the internet show crowds of parishioners trying to form a human shield around their churches. Dozens have been injured. Other films show weeping believers defiantly singing hymns as huge red crosses are hoisted off the buildings. In April one of Wenzhou’s largest churches was completely demolished. Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Churches* Theology

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Posted November 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis will travel to Turkey next month, the Vatican said on Tuesday, his first visit to the predominantly Muslim country which has become a refuge for Christians fleeing persecution by Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and in Iraq.

During his three-day visit, the pope will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He will also meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the Orthodox churches that make up the second-largest Christian church family after Roman Catholicism.

"The Holy Father will visit Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 28 to 30," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Read it all.

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Posted October 22, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asia Bibi’s death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan on Thursday. Bibi, a Roman Catholic mother of five also known as Aasiya Noreen, was sentenced to die in 2010 after she was convicted of blasphemy. Bibi’s Muslim coworkers accused her of drinking the same water as them and verbally challenging their faith.

“I met Asia in prison a month ago. She’s fine and was hoping to hear good news, but, alas, our ordeal is not over yet,” Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, told Morning Star News after yesterday’s decision.

World Watch Monitor reports that Bibi’s attorney Naeem Shakir challenged the testimony of the women who feuded with Bibi, arguing to the appellate court that their testimony had been hearsay because the complainant in the case had not heards Bibi’s words himself. The judges ignored Sharkir’s critiques, suggesting he should have raised them the trial level.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This “different spirit” is the key to Welby’s thinking, and it is not one that can be entrusted to our politicians. Whether we choose to accept religious belief or not, it does not alter the reality that religious faith and ideologies hold far more power than guns and bombs. In the first three centuries of the Church it had no armies and pitched no battles, yet it overcame the Roman Empire through love and a gospel of God’s peace. Religious leaders need to be given a place at the top table as much as military commanders. Their insights into the role of religious belief as a driving force in individuals’ lives, along with their status, hold great value and potential to change the stakes.

There is an onus, too, on all of our religious leaders to take the initiative and become more outspoken, addressing those both inside and outside of their respective religions:
Religious leaders must up their game and engage jihadism in religious, philosophical and ethical space. Religious justifications of violence must be robustly refuted. That is, in part, a theological task, as well as being a task that recognises the false stimulation, evil sense of purpose and illusory fulfilment that deceive young men and women into becoming religious warriors. As we have seen recently, many religious leaders have the necessary (and very great) moral and physical courage to see the need for an effective response to something that they have condemned. It is essential that Christians are clear about the aim of peace and the need for joint working and that Muslim leaders continue explicitly to reject extremism, violent and otherwise. Any response must bring together all those capable of responding to the challenge.
Justin Welby talks about treasuring and preserving our values, but also of reshaping them. This would appear to be contradictory, but the context suggests that he is referring to both the values that have built peace and progress and also those that we have developed that bear the hallmarks of selfishness and self-preservation.

This is the battle that Justin Welby is calling for.

Read it all.

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Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are at least three levels of violence. The first demonstrates mere power and greed, with mobs and soldiers driving people out of their homes and businesses and into the streams of refugees. According to United Nations estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have been displaced during the past four months.

The second level of everyday violence, she said bluntly, is "just shooting people."

On the third level, people move beyond deadly violence into unbelievable acts of terror. A Muslim who fled the fighting, said Ahmed, told her one story about what happened to some Iraqi men who could not flee fast enough. The Islamic State soldiers "lay them on the ground, after shooting them," and then rolled over the bodies with a tractor in "front of their families, just to devastate them."

[Andrew] White said those who survive are left haunted by what they have seen and, in some cases, what they themselves have done.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted October 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I doubt anyone in the Church of England who knows Rev. Stephen Sizer was surprised that he would attend a conference critical of Israel. Sizer, the Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Christian Zionism, that is, Christian support for the nation-state of Israel on theological grounds.

What is surprising is that a vicar of the Church of England would attend a conference in Iran to speak to a group of anti-Semites on the subject of the Zionist lobby in England. Other attendees of the New Horizon conference in Tehran include a long list of Holocaust deniers and 9/11 truthers. The conference included a panel discussion called “Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat” with the subheading “9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist ‘Public Myths.’”

Read it all.

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Posted October 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To Jewish friends and colleagues on the occasion of Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe 2014/5775,

I wish to express my most earnest and prayerful good wishes to Jewish colleagues and communities in this country and beyond, as you live through the spiritual intensity of the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I know this to be a time not of frivolity, but of candid introspection - of repentance, prayer, and acts of charity and justice. Christians and others have much to learn from the seriousness and solemnity of this time, always set in a context confident of divine mercy and forgiveness.

This last year has been hard for both of our communities. I spoke earlier in the year of how unacceptable is the spike in violence and abuse against Jewish communities here in the UK.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism

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Posted October 2, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious leaders agree the Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — must be stopped. Their struggle is how best to do it.

“As mainstream religious leaders of different faiths get together, it strengthens the voice of moderation,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group.

A group of mainstream Muslim scholars sought to strip the Iraqi and Syrian militants of any legitimacy under the cover of Islam in an open letter in Arabic issued Wednesday.​​

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 12:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.

"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "If you break it, you own it." Well, it's safe to say we broke Iraq.

That's the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — "The Vicar of Baghdad" — who serves as the chaplain to St. George's Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White's Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

"I was in favor of the U.S. invasion," White told me. "But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands."

Read it all from USA Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and several Middle East partners pounded Islamic State targets in Syria Tuesday with waves of warplanes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in an aggressive and risky operation marking a new phase in the conflict.

A statement issued by the U.S. Central Command early Tuesday said that a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles destroyed or damaged multiple Islamic State targets in several parts of Syria, where a civil war has been raging for more than three years.

The U.S. statement said “partner nations,” including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, “participated in or supported” the operation. The involvement of these regional allies are key for the legitimacy and logistics of the operation.

Read it all.

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As we approach the first anniversary of the horrific suicide bombings at All Saints Church, Peshawar – which made martyrs of more than 100 Christians and wounded many more – firstly our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were bereaved and injured in these terrible attacks. As we have done, so must we continue to pray fervently for Jesus Christ to comfort all those whose lives were changed forever by these evil acts. Meanwhile we must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people there.

"In May I visited Pakistan’s Anglican community – who number 800,000 in a population of 180 million – and I was appalled to hear and see evidence of the hatred, violence and persecution they face. As I sat among them, I heard the searing anguish in their cry for the right to worship in freedom and safety. But I was also moved and inspired by their steadfastness and courage, which is grounded in deep and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis called Sunday for Muslims and all religious leaders to condemn Islamic extremists who "pervert" religion to justify violence, as he visited Albania and held up the Balkan nation as a model for interfaith harmony for the rest of the world.

"To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman," Francis told representatives of Albania's Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities during a half-day visit to Tirana in which he recalled the brutal persecution people of all faiths suffered under communism.

Francis wept when he heard the testimony of one priest, the Rev. Ernest Troshani, 84, who for 28 years was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to forced labor for refusing to speak out against the Catholic Church as his captors wanted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeAlbania* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many displaced Christians now see no future in Iraq, home to one of the most ancient Christian communities anywhere.

"Now we know there is no more security in this country," said Father Bahnam Lalo, pastor of Bartella's St. George Church, who, like most of his parishioners, fled to Irbil, capital of the relatively safe semiautonomous Kurdish region. "We love this land, we're rooted to this land, but it's hopeless."

International attention last month focused on the plight of the Yazidis, another minority group, and their harrowing escape to Mt. Sinjar. But about 100,000 Christians also have fled the Sunni militants since June, church leaders say.

Multitudes of displaced Christians are now hoping to join relatives in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.

“You don’t say to Muslims, ‘If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”

However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.

“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

Read it all.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian fathers told to convert to Islam or watch their children lose their heads.

Christians fleeing their communities shot, their dead bodies lined up on the ground, then rolled over by a bulldozer as their loved ones watch.

These are just some of the stories Canon Andrew White and Dr. Sarah Ahmed shared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Monday.

Read it all.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are various pieties that politicians observe in the wake of some barbarity committed by Islamic fundamentalists and duly David Cameron observed them in his statement yesterday about the murder of David Haines. Of the perpetrators, he observed:
‘They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people – Christians, Muslims, minorities across Iraq and Syria. They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.’
I really wish he wouldn’t. It doesn’t add anything whatever to our understanding of Isis to say that they are not Muslims but monsters. They may not be our preferred kind of Muslims – my own preference is for the C of E sort you used to get in the former Yugoslavia – but they are, unquestionably Muslims of a particularly unattractive stamp. Calling them monsters is an impolite way of abnegating any effort to understand them.

Read it all

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking to BBC News in Bristol, where he is on a diocesan visit, Archbishop Justin said: "What we have seen in this dreadful video is an act of absolute evil, unqualified, without any light in it at all. There is a sense that within this area, and in many places in the world where this kind of thing is being done, that the darkness is deepening. It's being done in the name of faith, but we've heard already today faith leaders from Islam across the world condemning this.

"What's going on is a power-seeking activity. Faith is often used as a hook on which to hang other desires, and this is a desire for power and influence, and faith is being twisted to enable it to be used to gain power and influence for their own unspeakably evil ends. So today there is that sick sense of horror at the wickedness we see, a deep sense of compassion for the family, and prayer that they may be comforted by the presence and light of Christ in a very, very dark time indeed."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

TARIN: What I think U.S. Muslims are doing, their feeling is that ISIS again has hijacked their faith. We saw this on 9-11, we saw this repeatedly with Al Qaeda. ISIS is again using religion to put forth political and social goals in the region. And I think American Muslims are coming out in staggering numbers. The leadership across the country has come out saying, “This does not represent us. This is not who we are.

And we will stand against you using our faith to push a political agenda in the region.”

LAWTON: Is there something, though, the community can do beyond just words? Is there something concrete, maybe, to stop this?

TARIN: Yes. Communities around the country are making sure that the Internet is not a place where young people are being influenced. Because the message of ISIS is black and white. It says the West and America is at war with Islam. And so what our communities are doing, our institution has launched a program called Safe Spaces, where we are making sure that our young people are civically engaged and are not vulnerable to the black and white message of ISIS and groups like it.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why was there such a wave of opposition? In part because Americans had no confidence their leaders understood the complications, history and realities of Syria or the Mideast. The previous 12 years had left them distrusting the American foreign-policy establishment. Americans felt the U.S. itself needed more care and attention. By 2013 there was a new depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama's leadership.

But there was another, powerful aspect to the opposition.

Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East. They were being murdered, tortured, abused for their faith and run out of the region. And for all his crimes and failings, Syria's justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country's Christians. His enemies were—the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.

In the year since, the brutality against Middle Eastern Christians, and Islamic State's ferocious anti-Christian agenda, has left many Christians deeply alarmed. Jihadists are de-Christianizing the Mideast, where Christianity began.Read it all.

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is an underlying assumption here, shared by religious conservatives and their progressive antagonists (they just differ on what to do about it), and indeed (still) widespread both in academic and popular assessments of the contemporary world: that modernity means a decline of religion and its concomitant morality. Without dissecting this concept any further, this is what is meant by the concept of secularization; for our purposes here we can mean by secularism the idea that secularization is not just a fact, but one to be applauded and promoted. But is it a basic fact of our age? It is certainly a fact; but is it the fact by which our age is to be defined? I think it is not. It is not equally dispersed globally–strongly so in Europe, not at all in Nepal, somewhere in between in Texas. However, what is much more universally dispersed is a fact mentioned by John Paul II in his address to the Latin American bishops: that “faith is no longer taken for granted”. Rather, faith must be based on an individual decision.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To defeat a disciplined and fanatical insurgency inspired by ideological fervour anywhere, disciplined leadership is fundamental. Without such leadership the security forces are reluctant to engage. When rampant corruption is added to the mix, it is no wonder that West Africa’s putatively most powerful military force has been unable and unwilling to reduce Boko Haram to the pitiful state in which it existed four years ago. Now that the security forces have the benefit of outside help and sophisticated surveillance techniques, it should be easy. But if armies are not fully at one with their political leaders, and if armies believe themselves to be abused, there is no fight.

Victory over Boko Haram is only possible if Mr. Jonathan makes such a victory a national cause and if he and his close followers find a way to strengthen the legitimacy of the state and of key state institutions such as the military. This would involve Mr. Jonathan demonstrating a real belief in the integrity of the nation, casting aside party and ethnic considerations, and showing that he really is the leader of all Nigerians, not just southerners, Christians or the denizens of Abuja.

Until and unless Mr. Jonathan rises to as yet untouched heights of leadership, Maiduguri may well be overrun, and a jejune and greedy movement constitute Nigeria’s first breakaway state. The 19th-century Kanemi-Bornu emirate will then have been recreated in the guise of a fanatical caliphate with no real indigenous roots.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this one day Justin Welby has explained with clarity and forcefulness much which many of us have longed for the British government to articulate; to publicly acknowledge the truth and extent of the situation for those minorities who have been systematically targeted by IS. And of these minorities Christians have suffered by far the most.

These are the words that could and probably should have been spoken by our Foreign Secretary by now. But even if they had come from Philip Hammond, they would have not had the same weight and authority as they did coming from Justin Welby. This is not because of any religious position the Archbishop holds. Instead it is because he has far more on-the-ground experience of conflict than any member of our government. Nor has any one of them come close to sacrificing as much personal risk, time and energy for the sake of reconciliation and peace as he has.

Even before he was ordained, as an oil executive Justin Welby was witnessing first-hand the deadly conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that continues to this day. In 2002 he was appointed as Canon of Coventry Cathedral and co-director of its world-renowned International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR), taking over from Canon Andrew White who went on to become vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad. During his time in the position he worked closely with Andrew White on peace missions in Iraq. He also regularly visited Nigeria where he often risked his own life conducting delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, risking his own life in the process. While in Nigeria he was repeatedly blindfolded, held at gunpoint and arrested. Of those experiences Justin Welby has said: ‘On three occasions it looked like I was going to get killed. One plan was to shoot me.’

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Dear Friends in Christ,

Many of us have been following with alarm the persecution of Christians in various countries of the Middle East and Africa. Concern has been expressed within our diocese by priests and laity of the need for us to have a diocesan response to this current crisis.

At our Diocesan Council Meeting last week all concurred that as Bishop I would appoint an upcoming Sunday to be set aside for specific prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the midst of this persecution as well as a day for fasting on their behalf. I have appointed September 14th as a Sunday for such diocesan wide intercession. It is the Sunday nearest to Holy Cross Day which is transferred this year to be observed on Monday, September 15th.

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Nato leaders met in Wales yesterday to discuss how the international community should respond to religiously motivated violence in the Middle East, Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President, visited Pope Francis in the Vatican to propose a “United Nations of Religions” to counter the rise of religious extremism.

“In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, though, wars are launched using above all religion as an excuse,” Mr Peres told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), before explaining his proposal at a meeting with the Pope.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who joined Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Pope Francis to pray for peace in the Vatican a month before the outbreak of war in Gaza, said the real United Nations was no longer up to the challenge, since it lacked the armies possessed by states and the conviction produced by religion.

Read it all (requires subscription).


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Posted September 5, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

Read it all.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Italian officials on Tuesday (Aug. 5) moved to expel a Moroccan imam who was caught on video inciting violence against Jews during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said he had ordered the imam, Raoudi Aldelbar, to be expelled “for seriously disturbing the peace, endangering national security and religious discrimination.”

The imam was filmed during a Friday sermon in a mosque near Venice last month calling for Jews to be killed “one by one,” according to the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, which published the video on its website.

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Posted August 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The apparent inability of the Iraqi military to dislodge Islamists who have imposed an increasingly proscriptive Caliphate on a large part of the country is raising fears that Christianity could disappear in the area altogether.

The Chaplain of St George's, Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, told the BBC that "things are desperate; our people are disappearing. . . Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed, come what may. We will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near." Canon White said that Iraqi Christians were "in grave danger. There are literally Christians living in the desert and on the street. They have nowhere to go."

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, echoed these views, saying that it was "an outrage that a community established in the early centuries of the Christian era should face expulsion from their own land, simply for their faith". The Australian government, the international community, and the UN, he said, "must not stand by while such persecution continues unabated".

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a "betrayal of Britain's moral and historical obligations".

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron's intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across Europe, the conflict in Gaza is generating a broader backlash against Jews, as threats, hate speech and even violent attacks proliferate in several countries.

Most surprising perhaps, a wave of incidents has washed over Germany, where atonement for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes is a bedrock of the modern society. A commitment to the right of Israel to exist is ironclad. Plaques and memorials across the country exhort, “Never Again.” Children are taught starting in elementary school that their country’s Nazi history must never be repeated. Even so, academics say the recent episodes may reflect a rising climate of anti-Semitism that they had observed before the strife over Gaza.

This week, the police in the western city of Wuppertal detained two young men on suspicion of throwing firebombs at the city’s new synagogue; the attack early Tuesday caused no injuries. In Frankfurt on Thursday, the police said, a beer bottle was thrown through a window at the home of a prominent critic of anti-Semitism. She heard an anti-Jewish slur after going to the balcony to confront her assailant, The Frankfurter Rundschau reported. An anonymous caller to a rabbi threatened last week to kill 30 Frankfurt Jews if the caller’s family in Gaza was harmed, the police said.

Read it all.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How, then, should Christians respond to Isis?

First of all, they need to respond with steadfast witness to Christ and the truth of the Gospel. The Book of Revelation is concerned with how the powers of evil that assault God’s people are defeated and what it tells us is that this is achieved through Christians remaining faithful to Christ to the point of death. ‘And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’’ (Revelation 12:10-11).

Secondly, they need to pray. As Revelation also makes clear, it is ultimately God who sustains his Church and defeats its persecutors and so Christians need to take seriously Jesus’ injunction to ‘ask, seek and knock’ (Matthew 7:7-8) and pray hard for those who are suffering because of the activities of Isis. The charity Open Doors, for example, has asked for prayers:

for God to change the hearts of those who are persecuting Christians;
for God to uphold Christian refugees who are weary and exhausted through the support of the body of Christ;
for God to give wisdom and strength to the government in Baghdad to resolve this crisis.

Thirdly, they need to give to support those in need because of Isis’ activity, such as the Christians who have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul.

Read it all.

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Posted August 1, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, once the most powerful capital of the ancient world, has special importance for anyone familiar with the Bible. It was the setting for the book of Jonah, a place to which God sent the prophet to warn its inhabitants of impending destruction unless they repented of their evil ways.

Today it is known as Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. And last week, almost unnoticed amid the horrific stream of news about violence in the Mideast, a fresh casualty of Islamic extremism was the towering structure that contained the tomb of Jonah. Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham who blew up the prophet's tomb either didn't know or didn't care that it was Muhammad himself who, in the Quran, described Jonah as "a righteous preacher of the message of God."

It is remarkable that Jonah achieved significant importance in the religious traditions of all three major monotheistic faiths. His biblical book is short, all of four chapters, totaling 48 sentences. In the Christian Bible, it is found in the section called "The Minor Prophets." In the Jewish version, Jonah is lumped in with 11 others in the work known as "The Twelve."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted August 1, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh has urged the Boko Haram insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue to stop the bloodletting that has pervaded the country.

Addressing newsmen at the sidelines of its second synod organised by the Diocese of Kubwa in Lugbe at the weekend, Rev Okoh said the best way to have a comprehensive end to the insecurity in the country was for the gunmen to come forward and "discuss issues as is done in civilized environment".

He said the attempt on the life of former Head of State Retired General Muhammadu Buhari last Wednesday in Kaduna forebodes worse days ahead.

"It sends signal of insecurity. And again, its sends another signal that is let everybody, east, west, north, south, Christians, Muslims, African traditional religionists put hands together and stop this terrorism. Nobody is spared, nobody is free, and nobody is safe," said the Anglican Primate.

Read it all.

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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